Rapper Azealia Banks talked about sex, religion, music, and her her childhood in a recent interview with Playboy
. The April issue of the magazine features a tell-all sitdown, along with a photo spread, of Banks.
Did you grow up in a house where sex was discussed freely?
Yes, but it was more joked about. My mother was always making inappropriate jokes. We had sex books in the house. She never tried to hide it from me. When I got my period it was very much like, “Boys are going to want to touch your body, but you can get pregnant now, and we not playing that sh*t.” My mom scared me off of getting pregnant.
What’s the longest relationship you’ve had?
Four years. It started when I was 17. He was 43. There’s something very wrong with a man that age who wants to date a 17-year-old girl. I didn’t know how to shave my bush and sh*t like that. I had a hairy pussy. I didn’t know how to wear perfume. I had neon pink barrettes in my hair. And as “212” started to pop off and my career started to happen, he became jealous. He choked me and beat me up, and of course you should not be f*cking with a man who puts his hands on you, but I was stupid and young.
Did that relationship cure you of your attraction to older men?
No, I love older men. The things in an older man’s house are better — his furniture, even his knives and his pots. And they smell better. Young guys, they may skip a shower and sh*t like that.
It sounds like you don’t care whether your songs are on the radio or not.
No. There are certain ways you have to behave if you want to get played on the radio. I want to date whoever I want to date. I want to smoke weed. I want to get drunk. I want to go on vacation, you know?
Is there someone whose career you’d like to emulate?
Jay Z. That’s the only person I have my eye set on. The race thing always comes up, but I want to get there being very black and proud and boisterous about it. You get what I mean? A lot of times when you’re a black woman and you’re proud, that’s why people don’t like you. In American society, the game is to be a nonthreatening black person. That’s why you have Pharrell or Kendrick Lamar saying, “How can we expect people to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves?” He’s playing that nonthreatening black man sh*t, and that gets all the white soccer moms going, “We love him.” Even Kanye West plays a little bit of that game — “Please accept me, white world.” Jay Z hasn’t played any of those games, and that’s what I like.
If people read your Twitter account and don’t like you, is that because of race?
It’s always about race. Lorde can run her mouth and talk sh*t about all these other bitches, but y’all aren’t saying she’s angry. If I have something to say, I get pushed into the corner.
And whenever you point out that discrepancy, someone on Twitter says, “Why are you trying to make this about race?”
Because y’all motherf*ckers still owe me reparations! [laughs
] That’s why it’s still about race. Really, the generational effects of Jim Crow and poverty linger on. As long as I have my money, I’m getting the f*ck out of here and I’m gonna leave y’all to your own devices.
Do you want to leave the U.S.?
Yes! I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms. Those little teenage girls who work at Kmart and have a racist grandma — that’s really America.
If people don’t like you, does that mean they’re racist?
No, not at all. There’s misogyny, and then there’s something called misogynoir [a term coined by writer Moya Bailey to describe “the unique ways in which black women are pathologized in popular culture”]. We have all these stereotypes in society: The gay man is a f*ggot and he’s over-the-top, or you’re an untrustworthy cracker, or you’re a loud black b*tch. All these things exist for a reason, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, I am loud and boisterous.
And you are black.
And I am black, and I am a pain in your ass. But I’m not really talking to you, and that’s what makes those people mad. You’re not invited to this conversation. This is not about you.
This has been an issue ever since hip-hop spread outside New York City. It’s a black art form that’s subject to being critiqued by people who don’t understand it.
When you rip a people from their land, from their customs, from their culture — there’s still a piece of me that knows I’m not supposed to be speaking English, I’m not supposed to be worshipping Jesus Christ. All this sh*t is unnatural to me. People will be like, “Oh, you’re ignorant because you don’t speak proper English.” No. This is not mine. I don’t even want this sh*t, so I’m going to do whatever the f*ck I want with this language. I’m going to call you a f*g or a cracker or a b*tch.
Are your creative impulses closely related to your destructive impulses?
Yes. In my adulthood I’m having to destroy all these things society really wants you to think. The history textbooks in the U.S. are the worst if you’re not white. “The white man gave you the vote. He Christianized you and taught you how to speak English. If it weren’t for him, you’d still be living in a hut.” I could write a book about why black people shouldn’t be Christians. Young black kids should have their own special curriculum that doesn’t start from the boat ride over from Africa. All you know as a black kid is we came over here on a boat, we didn’t have anything, and we still don’t have anything. But what was happening in Africa? What culture were we pulled away from? That information is vital to the survival of a young black soul.
You said black people aren’t supposed to be Christians. What religion do you identify with?
I don’t want to say, but I’ll tell you about one form of the religion. It’s called 21 Divisions. When they brought the slaves over to the Caribbean, they syncretized all their African gods with Catholic saints. So in 21 Divisions there are black gods and goddesses, and my mother practiced that when I was little. Whenever problems happened, we turned to 21 Divisions to fix it. It’s funny, because my friends on the block in Harlem, their mothers would be like, “Oh, you f*cking with that witchcraft. You working roots.” You can cleanse people with root work or do bad things to them. But 21 Divisions is celestial.
It sounds like religion is a big aspect of your life.
I don’t understand how someone could be an atheist. Think about God as software, right? If you were to look at God’s face, your head would explode. Because your head is a calculator, and the amount of information that would be embedded in his face would fit only on a Google-size data center. Your head cannot handle that much information. Stop looking for God.
Were you at all hesitant about posing for Playboy
No, I love getting naked. It’s so funny, every time my manager arranges a photo shoot, I’m like, “Let’s do a nude photo!” And everyone’s like, “Oh, Azealia, you’re always trying to bring your butt out.” Posing for Playboy
was a no-brainer. I was like, “Yes! They want to see me naked.”
You’re bisexual. Do women hit on you often?
No, most women are scared of me. People have always been scared of me. I punched my teacher in the face one time when I was in preschool. We were playing house, and the lady was like, “I’m a monster! I’m gonna eat your family!” I punched her right in the eye. [laughs
] It was a Head Start program, so I was three.
How much sex have you had recently?
Not a lot.
You should be having lots of sex.
Right? I should be getting dick all the time. I like to f*ck. [laughs
] But I can’t just meet a guy and f*ck him. I’m too afraid of getting herpes or some sh*t. I like to feel them out, and then I start talking about my black female problems, and we get into a conversation about race, and then we disagree and don’t have another date. Whatever. I’ll just hang out with my mother. It’s okay, because p*ssy is way more sacred than penis.
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